I thought this video from Every Frame a Painting was pretty interesting. It traces the development of how films/TV handle texting and the internet on screen.
For those of you too lazy to watch the video, it concludes that for texting, the best solution is simply showing text onscreen, with no speech bubbles or cutaways. It lets you keep watching the actors’ performances while inferring who is texting whom, which keeps the viewer engaged. This was first popularized in BBC’s Sherlock in 2010, but has been used a lot since then.
The video argues that nobody has yet come up with a good way to show internet usage, and that’s something that filmmakers still need to innovate on in order to find a solution.
One thought on “How to handle texting and internet on film”
I noticed this on Million Dollar Listing: LA on Bravo last night (out of the corner of my eye, while at the gym), almost certainly due to the Baader-Meinhof Effect, and was irked to see that while they did the prescribed “texts floating in mid-air” as suggested in this video, for some unfathomable reason, whenever they texted, the camera kept cutting away from the actors’ faces to focus on the phones in their hands. It’s like they had to emphasize for the audience that those floaty words were a symbol for a text message that was sent and received.
The producers clearly picked up on the idea that other, cooler shows had this gimmick, but they implemented it without any appreciation for the purpose.